In Tanzania, a young woman living in poverty, named Milka, dreams of someday becoming a doctor.
Thousands of miles away in Red Deer, 10-year-old Elijah Kooman is selling elephant toys he’s stuffed and sewn to help finance Milka’s education.
Elijah and Milka are among the many people interviewed in the new film Dream, produced by Red Deer’s Unveil Studios.
It also features former 54-40 guitarist Phil Comparelli, Winnipeg musician Robb Nash, who speaks in schools to prevent teen suicide, and Paul Yin, of China, who has grief counselled relatives of those missing from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
The documentary, which was directed and produced by Elijah’s dad, Matthew Kooman, and his uncle, Daniel Kooman, is about people who dare to set and follow lofty goals.
“Dream is about the power of dreams and how a purposeful dream can change the world,” said Andrew Kooman, their brother and the project’s marketer.
The film that was shot on four continents and will be screened in Red Deer on June 14, with showings at 6:15 and 8 p.m. at Red Deer College’s Welikoklad Event Centre.
Former Red Deer resident Bryan Torwalt, who was recently nominated for a Grammy Award for his Christian contemporary music with his wife Katie Torwalt, is also featured in the documentary, as is Red Deer’s Monybany Dau, a former child soldier from Sudan.
Matthew Kooman said the film was inspired by stories of people who have followed their aspirations — some leading to fulfillment and success, like the Torwalts — and others to less satisfying places.
Comparelli, who was in the Vancouver rock band 54-40 during its heyday, talks about dealing with the flip side of fame — addictions and destructive behaviour.
Matthew Kooman said Comparelli quit music for some years after he cleaned up his life, choosing to work at a garden centre.
He recently resumed playing his guitar — “but not in the same way. Now he’s doing it for the love of music,” said Kooman.
“Sometimes, you think your dream is good for you, but that’s not always the case…”
Dream also tells the story of a Winnipeg musician whose life changed drastically after a traffic accident. Robb Nash became depressed and suicidal until he decided to use his music to try to help young people who are going through their own mental health crises.
More than 800 suicide notes have been turned over to Nash by affected adolescents who hear his musical presentation and decide to find something to live for, said Kooman, who previously created the Unveil Studios film E is for Elephant with his brothers, as well as the feature She has a Name, about sex trafficking.
“I think we are all searching for significance… but sometimes, we get lost in the search,” he added.
Kooman discovered the most fulfilling dreams are those that also touch others, helping to improve their lives.
His son Elijah raised enough money with his elephant stuffie sales on Kickstarter to buy two pedal-powered sewing machines that he gifted to Milka and her family.
During a visit to Tanzania last year, Elijah taught them how to sew the same elephants — which the Tanzanian family now creates and then mails to Elijah, who stuffs them here and continues to sell them to make Milka’s educational dreams come true.
(For more information, please visit dreamelephants.com.)
Tickets for the screening of Dream are available from www.rdctickets.universitytickets.com.